Many villagers live in cow sheds and tents

“We live like calves in these cow sheds,” said Manish Kumar, a resident of Chandrapuri village, pointing to the dwellings inhabited by the villagers.

Around 72 km from Kedarnath, the village in Rudraprayag district, was hit by flash-floods on June 16 and 17, 2013. Fifty-seven houses were destroyed. Within a few hours, the space on which residential buildings stood was bulldozed by the Mandakini river. More than six months after the disaster, many villagers live in cow sheds and a few others in tents even as severe winter approaches.

Of the 3,100 buildings that were destroyed across the State in the mid-June deluge, 2,410 buildings are in rural areas. Chief Minister Vijay Bahuguna earlier said the disaster-affected would be shifted to individual residences before winter but not much work on housing has been done in the disaster-hit areas.

A survey of land which is geologically safe for the construction of buildings is on in Uttarkashi, Chamoli, Rudraprayag, Pithoragarh, and Bageshwar districts. While the State government is still working on housing, some private organisations are providing villagers capital to construct houses.

In Simi, 15 km from Chandrapuri towards Kedarnath, land is sinking as the result of last year’s disaster. Parvati Devi, whose hotel was completely destroyed due to the sinking, said: “The Mandakini eroded the river banks and my hotel crumbled.”

Under the government policy, people whose houses got completely destroyed can choose between prefabricated houses and ‘owner-driven’ constructed houses. They can opt for prefabricated houses or build their houses for which the government will provide Rs 5 lakh per unit.

More than 2,000 people have opted for owner-driven construction. The number of people who have opted for prefabricated houses is around 130.

The 2,500 houses being constructed under the State government’s supervision are being funded by the World Bank. The Secretary of Public Works Department, Amit Singh Negi, said that as a World Bank requirement, owner-driven houses should be constructed in safe zones. Work on them had not yet started.

Mr. Negi said: “Owner-driven construction sites are in remote areas. Geologists have been inspecting the sites for almost a month now. We will start sending money to people as soon as the geologists send their reports.”